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Ravens-Giants Breakdown

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Friday January 26, 2001 5:19 PM

CNNSI.com NFL analyst Pat Kirwan breaks down the Super Bowl and explains which team has the edge.

Matchups: Offense | Defense | Special Teams | Coaching

OFFENSE
Ravens   Giants
Trent Dilfer has continued to play efficient, mistake-free games in the playoffs. His efforts have earned him a trip back to Tampa, where he was ridiculed by many of the media and fans. What has helped Dilfer succeed in Baltimore is his acceptance of his role, which is to make plays when they present themselves and not force the issue. In each playoff win, Dilfer came up with a big completion to turn the game, and he's now won 10 consecutive games as Baltimore's starter. QB
 
Kerry Collins had a career day against Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game. He was 28 of 39 for 381 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-0 rout. Collins has good size and sees the entire field well in finding an open receiver, as evidenced by the fact that seven different receivers had at least one reception against the Vikings. He stays in the pocket well and will throw to the outlet receiver rather than take a sack.
Jamal Lewis rebounded from a poor game against Tennessee with a 79-yard effort against the Raiders. Lewis was the focal point of the Ravens offense during the regular season but has not been dominant in the last two playoff games. The two weeks rest may help re-energize the talented rookie. Priest Holmes should see action as well. RB
 
Tiki Barber has excellent speed and is a great all-around running back. Barber rushed for 1,006 yards during the season, had 719 yards receiving and returned punts for 332 yards. Rookie Ron Dayne is an inside threat who rushed for 770 yards. Barber has been hampered lately with a broken left forearm.
Qadry Ismail and Pat Johnson have not had big seasons and continue to be non-factors in the passing game during the playoffs. If the Ravens wideouts can make plays against the big Giants secondary, it will open things up for the running game. WR
 
Ike Hilliard caught 10 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota. Amani Toomer scored seven touchdowns on 78 receptions for 1,094 yards during the season. They pose a strong deep threat. On passing downs, Joe Jurevicius and speedy rookie Ron Dixon add depth.
Shannon Sharpe made big plays for this team all year and has continued during the playoffs. Sharpe has been the Ravens' best offensive player in the postseason, with a reception for over 50 yards in each game, including a 96-yard touchdown. TE
 
Veteran Howard Cross is used primarily as a blocking tight end. Pete Mitchell gives the Giants another receiver, as he caught 25 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown during the season.
The Ravens' offensive line, led by Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden, physically dominated the Broncos in the wild-card game, but did not play particularly well against the Titans, then rebounded against a talented Oakland defensive line. The Ravens will face a tough test against a red-hot Giants' defensive line. LINE
 
Pro Bowl right guard Ron Stone leads a solid blocking unit. Eighteen-year veteran left tackle Lomas Brown makes his first appearance in the Super Bowl. Brown is nursing a sore back, but will be in the lineup against the Ravens. Left guard Glen Parker, center Dusty Zeigler, and right tackle Luke Pettigout complete the unit that will protect Collins.

DEFENSE
Ravens   Giants
The Ravens' defensive line was dominant in the win against the Raiders. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa are imposing forces in the middle. Michael McCrary had another sack. But it was Siragusa's hit on Rich Gannon that may have changed the game. LINE
 
Defensive end Michael Strahan is the emotional leader of the Giants' front line. He is joined by defensive end Cedric Jones, defensive tackle Keith Hamilton, and defensive tackle Christian Peter to form a defensive unit as good as any in the NFC.
Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis is the physical and emotional leader of this record-setting defense; he is also one of the best open field tacklers in the game. Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper have played very well in the playoffs. LB
 
Jessie Armstead leads the strongest unit on the defensive side of the ball. Michael Barrow and Ryan Phillips form a fast unit with superior tackling skills.
The Ravens' secondary continues to prove everybody wrong. Entering the playoffs, the secondary was considered the weak link, but they shut down one of the premier tandems in Denver's Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey and played well against Tennessee and Oakland. The only thing the Ravens secondary has not been able to control is cornerback Chris McAlister's trash talking. DB
 
The Giants' defensive backs have enough size to match up with any group of receivers. Cornerback Jason Sehorn is the most athletic member of the group, teaming with Dave Thomas to shut down Randy Moss and Cris Carter in the NFC Championship Game. Safeties Sam Garnes and Shaun Williams complete the starting unit. On passing downs, look for nickel back Emmanuel McDaniel, who has strong ball-hawking skills as evidenced by his six interceptions during the season.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Ravens   Giants
The Ravens' special teams are vital in their quest to win the field-position battle, which is very important to their offense. Punter Kyle Richardson did not make the Pro Bowl, but he did lead the NFL with 35 kicks inside the 20-yard line. That is a very important aspect of the Ravens' special teams with their defense's ability to pressure offenses into mistakes. Kicker Matt Stover had a Pro Bowl season making 35 of 39 field goals and has missed only once in the playoffs. Punt returner Jermaine Lewis has big-play ability.
 
Veteran kicker Brad Daluiso provides for consistent field-goal opportunities. Punter Brad Maynard averaged 40.6 yards during the season. Speedy Ron Dixon gained more than 650 yards returning kickoffs in the regular season and returned the opening kickoff in the NFC Divisional playoff game against Philadelphia 97 yards for a touchdown. Tiki Barber received most of the punts during the season, but after he broke arm, Ike Hilliard assumed his duties against the Vikings.

COACHING
Ravens   Giants
Head coach Brian Billick has done a tremendous job getting his team to the Super Bowl. The Ravens have become mentally stronger as the season has gone along. The defense has been great and the offense has struggled badly at times, but there has been no division in the locker room. A lot of credit has to go to Billick and his staff. No one would have predicted the Ravens would be in the Super Bowl, especially during the five-game streak where they failed to score an offensive touchdown.

Head coach Jim Fassell has prepared his team as well as any en route to the Super Bowl. While they have no All-Pro players, the Giants thoroughly dismantled the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. Their game plan was masterful, both offensively and defensively. The Giants have terrific chemistry and confidence in their abilities, due to the leadership of the coaching staff.


 
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